It’s a fact: in many cases, physical activity can be as beneficial to your heart as medication.
You may wonder, why is exercise so good for your health? Well, let us count the ways.
One obvious answer is that exercise burns calories, which can help you maintain or reach a healthy weight. Exercising regularly paired with a healthy diet also improves factors linked to cardiovascular health, resulting in lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels, and better blood sugar regulation.
But that’s not all! Exercise also helps your sympathetic nervous system (which controls your heart rate and blood pressure) to be less reactive.
The list could still go on, that’s why we decided to illustrate all the key benefits of exercising for your heart in an infographic.
The 6 golden rules of exercising
- Perform a medical check-up before intense physical activity
- Report to the doctor any discomfort occurring during or just after the effort (chest pain, abnormal breathlessness, palpitations, etc.)
- Avoid any physical activity or sport if temperature -5 ° C or + 30 ° C, peak pollution or episodes of fever, influenza or other diseases
- No self-medication
- Before each sport activity, I give a warm-up and recovery time of 10 minutes.
- Drink water every 30 minutes of exercising.
How exercising is good for your heart and your health
- Exercise lowers blood pressure.
Exercise works (almost) better than medication to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure (at rest and also when exercising). High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.
- Exercise is key to weight control.
Especially when combined with a healthy diet, being physically active is an essential component for losing weight and even more important for keeping it off—which in turn helps optimize heart health. Being overweight puts stress on the heart and is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Exercise helps strengthen muscles.
A combination of aerobic workouts (walking, running, swimming) and strength training (weight lifting, resistance training) is considered best for heart health. These exercises improve the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood. That reduces the need for the heart to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles, whatever your age.
- Exercise can stop or slow the development of diabetes.
When combined with strength training, regular aerobic exercise such as cycling, walking, or swimming can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50% by allowing the muscles to better process glycogen, a fuel for energy, which when impaired, leads to excessive blood sugars, and thus diabetes.
- Exercise lowers stress.
Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart. Exercise—whether aerobic (like running), resistance-oriented (like weight training) or flexibility-focused (like yoga)—can help you relax and ease stress.
Overall, exercise improves the quality of life, so give it a try!